Retro Review: Bless Me, Ultima

This was such a beautiful listening experience. Why did I wait so long?

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolpho Anaya, Narrated by Robert Ramirez
Magical Realism, 11+ hours
A talent for meaningful storytelling and exquisite prose has made Rudolfo Anaya a leading exponent of Chicano literature in English. Anaya's work has won international acclaim, earning him a premier place in virtually every anthology of Latino writing. Now his classic bestseller, "Bless Me, Ultima" is reborn in this beautifully illustrated special edition. Antonio Marez is six years old when Ultima enters his life. She is a curandera, one who heals with herbs and magic. 'We cannot let her live her last days in loneliness,' says Antonio's mother. 'It is not the way of our people,' agrees his father. And so Ultima comes to live with Antonio's family in New Mexico. Soon Tony will journey to the threshold of manhood. Always, Ultima watches over him. She graces him with the courage to face childhood bigotry, diabolical possession, the moral collapse of his brother, and too many violent deaths. Under her wise guidance, Tony will probe the family ties that bind him, and he will find in himself the magical secrets of the pagan past—a mythic legacy equally as palpable as the Catholicism of Latin America in which he has been schooled. At each turn in his life there is Ultima who will nurture the birth of his soul. Enhanced by four full-color paintings by noted New Mexican artist Bernadette Vigil, this book will be treasured by all admirers of Rudolfo Anaya, whether they are longtime followers of his work or are discovering him for the first time.

My Thoughts
4 1/2 Evil Patrick's

This is a beautifully written coming of age story that I listened to as an unabridged audiobook. I don’t typically seek out this sort of book but the blurbage from the SYNC program caught my eye last summer and, well, it was free and I'm all about the free.

I regret reading many a book but my only regret here is that it took me a full year to actually take the time to listen to Bless Me, Ultima. It tells the story of a young boy named Antonio (Tony) whose family takes in an elder named Ultima, as is their tradition. Ultima takes young Tony under her wing and shares with him all of her knowledge about herbs and healing and introduces to him a world of mysticism that is at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Antonio is a smart little boy and soaks up the knowledge but he struggles with his mother’s desire for him to make her proud and become a priest. As the years pass, Tony experiences all life’s joy and pain with Ultima always nearby to help him make sense of the world.

Every now and then I need a break from all of the horror and romance and this book was the perfect choice. The writing is very descriptive, even slightly poetic at times, and the lovely prose lends itself to audio quite nicely. I highly recommend this version read by Robert Ramirez. His narration is fantastic and adds so much depth to the experience. 4 ½ Stars

A Bit About the Author

Rudolfo AnayaRudolfo Anaya lives and breathes the landscape of the Southwest. It is a powerful force, full of magic and myth, integral to his writings. Anaya, however, is a native Hispanic fascinated by cultural crossings unique to the Southwest, a combination of oldSpain and New Spain, of Mexico with Mesoamerica and the anglicizing forces of the twentieth century. Rudolfo Anaya is widely acclaimed as the founder of modern Chicano literature. According to the New York Times, he is the most widely read author in Hispanic communities, and sales of his classic Bless Me, Ultima (1972) have surpassed 360,000, despite the fact that none of his books have been published originally by New York publishing houses. His works are standard texts in Chicano studies and literature courses around the world, and he has done more than perhaps any other single person to promote publication of books by Hispanic authors in this country. With the publication of his novel, Albuquerque (1992),Newsweek has proclaimed him a front-runner in "what is better called not the new multicultural writing, but the new American writing." His most recent volume, published in 1995, is Zia Summer.

Read June 2013


  1. This sounds so good. Too bad I didn't know about the sync program when this one was listed. Great review!

    1. Thanks, Carole. Maybe you can find it at the library or via Overdrive? Most of the SYNC books are connected to Overdrive. I hope you're able to read it. It was a beautiful story.

  2. This does sound really sweet! I'm beautiful writing is always a plus.

    1. It was a nice change of pace mixed in the other stuff I usually read.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Between Naps: January 28 Edition

Retro Review: The Woods by Harlan Coben

Ten Underrated/Hidden Gems I've Read Recently